Ever thought of pouring yourself a glass of non-alcoholic wine? Neither do I. Largely because most non-alcoholic wines are awful. Frankly, non-alcoholic wines tend to fail. But there are exceptions.
Non-alcoholic St. Regis wines have been around for years in grocery stores, and they often disappoint. But St. Regis Sparkling Secco with its tasteful label and aluminum capsule it is surprisingly quite good. Each glass gleams the palest shade of butter yellow and exudes the fragrance of candied lemons, pineapple and a hint of white flowers. The spicy entry offers a delicious hit of refreshment, vivid and lively, with a hint of sweetness for balance. The lemon, lime, and pineapple flavors taste pure and delicate enough to suggest wine, not soda. Rating: 90
St. Regis Sparkling Secco is sold at Longos ($ 12.99 / 750mL) and at Well ca ($ 9.99 / 750 ml).
For a nice bottle of single-serving champagne, without alcohol, there is Gruvi’s dry secco. Unlike the non-alcoholic version of St. Regis, Gruvi was never wine to begin with. It is simply a blend of spring water, white grape juice concentrate, natural flavors, citric acid, and carbon dioxide. As a result, it is not as complex as the St. Regis. But it is fast and balanced.
Pale straw in color, Gruvi Dry Secco smells slightly of fresh peaches and sliced pears, and the attack is bright and lively. Although the drink is not dry as the label says, it strikes the right balance between sweet and sour. The juicy orchard fruit flavors have a smooth, elevated flavor, and a mild astringency on the finish gives it a bit of grip and interest, making it food-friendly. This is a less complex and “wine-making” option than the St. Regis, but it’s still a decent downfall. And the format is practical and attractive. Rating: 89
A new option adjacent to wine that deserves your attention is the Silver Swallow Luxury Kombucha Deluxe Blanc with 0.5 percent alcohol. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink, and Silver Swallow is made from white tea buds picked by hand in Yunnan, China. Bottled like a sparkling wine, the result is quite elegant and sophisticated in flavor.
In the glass, Silver Swallow is slightly hazy and the color of sunlit straw. The fragrance is shy and subtle with soft hints of white tea and honey. Then it arrives fresh, crisp and understated, with fleeting notes of smooth white and green tea, dried hay, sweet melon, wildflower honey and a little passion fruit effect. A hint of sweetness adds shine to the drink’s texture. Pouring awesome indeed. Rating: 92
Silver Swallow Luxury Kombucha Deluxe Blanc is available online at silverswallow.co ($ 57.00 / 3x750mL) and at exclusive grocery stores such as six of the seven Whole Foods Markets in Ontario ($ 19.99). It is also served in hotels as elegant as Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa and the Ritz-Carlton Montreal.
Note that none of these wine-like drinks are available at the LCBO. Although it would be nice to see a selection of non-alcoholic wines at the liquor store, there aren’t many. After all, they are in the business of selling alcoholic beverages, not fruit juice and kombucha. When I asked the liquor giant for a list of nonalcoholic wines, there were only three on it, all of which have been removed from the list and are either out of stock or nearly out of stock.
With that said, you may still be able to find some of the Darling Cellars Des-Alcoholised Rosé from South Africa (LCBO 18,948 $ 11), which is excellent. This blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Grenache glows with a coral hue and swirls with aromas of sliced strawberries and melon. The attack is bright, crisp and citrus with hints of red fruits and puff pastry. A hint of smoke and stone on the finish gives it a feeling of complexity and delicacy. Rating: 90
It seems that non-alcoholic wine is difficult to do well. Often it lacks structure and complexity. After all, winemakers work hard to balance all the technical components of a wine, including alcohol, fruit strength, acidity, sugar, and in some cases, tannin. It is never as easy as simply removing the alcohol.
But it’s good to know that those who would like a nice glass of something like wine without the alcohol now have some serious options.
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